Karen Adam is now the MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast

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27 June 2008

Major upgrade package for A75

A £25.4 million investment package to upgrade a key South West trunk road and a vital route for the Scottish economy as a whole has taken a significant step forward today.

Transport Scotland has published a series of draft statutory orders for two important schemes on the A75 – the Dunragit by-pass and the upgrade to the Hardgrove section.

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson said:

"This Scottish Government is committed to providing a first class transport network which will support and grow our economy and I am delighted that these projects are moving another step closer to delivery.

"This multi-million pound investment will greatly improve traffic flow and connections – particularly between Scotland and Northern Ireland through better access to the ports of Stranraer and Cairnryan.

"These schemes, in addition to investments we are making elsewhere on the network, will make the A75 a safer route, whilst opening up opportunities for businesses and communities across the South West, of Scotland and beyond."

The £15.9 million Dunragit by-pass scheme, to the east of Stranraer, will help make Dunragit safer by removing trunk road traffic from the village.

A new 5.3 kilometre stretch of trunk road will be created; providing safe overtaking opportunities in both the east and westbound directions, whilst greatly improving traffic flow and journey times.

Additionally, the scheme will incorporate the needs of cyclists and pedestrians by providing safe crossing points and a dedicated underpass for cyclists and non-motorised users to travel under the trunk road.

The scheme will also mean the local bus service, which stops in Dunragit, will benefit from using a de-trunked route with lighter traffic levels.

Similarly, the £9.5 million Hardgrove project, between Carrutherstown and Upper Mains Farm in Dumfries and Galloway, will see a new 3.6 kilometre stretch of the A75 providing improved overtaking facilities in both the east and westbound directions.

The work will improve traffic flow by allowing faster moving vehicles to overtake platoons of slower vehicles; reducing driver frustration and improving road safety and journey times. As at Dunragit, the scheme will incorporate the needs of cyclists and pedestrians at by providing safe crossing points.

Transport Scotland has published draft road orders, draft compulsory purchase order and the environmental statement for the Hardgrove upgrade and the supplementary draft compulsory purchase and draft road orders for the Dunragit by-pass schemes, giving people and businesses the chance to formally object.

The 159 kilometres long A75 Gretna-Dumfries-Stranraer route is a main link in Scotland’s transport network carrying around 10,000 vehicles each day.

Serving communities and businesses across the South West, the A75 connects South Ayrshire with Dumfries and Galloway, through Annan and Gretna, and links ferry terminals at Stranraer with the M74 and A77.

Transport Scotland invested over £9 million last year to improve the A75 by widening three stretches of the road between Barfil and Bettyknowes, at Newton Stewart and between Planting End and Drumflower to allow safe overtaking opportunities.

It is estimated work will start on both projects in 2009/10 and be completed in 2010/11.

Details of the Dunragit Road Orders and the Environmental Statement and Road Orders for the Hardgrove Project, can be viewed by clicking on the following links:

26 June 2008

Road accidents at 50-year low

The number of deaths and serious injuries on Scotland's roads fell to their lowest level for more than 50 years in 2007, according to latest statistics released today.

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson welcomed the new figures, but said that the Scottish Government would not be complacent and would continue to do all it can to reduce accidents even further.

Provisional statistics for the UK from the UK Department for Transport show 282 people died on Scotland's roads in 2007 (a 10 per cent decrease from 2006), with 2,315 people seriously injured (12 per cent fewer than 2006).

A full breakdown for Scotland will be published on Monday when provisional statistics for Scotland-only are published.

Commenting on the DfT statistics, Mr Stevenson said:

"These are encouraging statistics and I welcome the fall. However, we cannot and will not be complacent.

"It is clear that we can all do more to get our road safety messages across to people of all ages and all driving abilities.

"Road fatalities may be at their lowest level for more than 50 years, but 282 people dying on our roads is still 282 too many.

"The Scottish Government wants to do all we can to reduce that number even further and stop the heartache being experienced by too many families across the country.

"We are currently working with the some of the leading thinkers on road safety from across Scotland and Europe to help inform a new Road Safety Strategy for Scotland which will be published later this year.

"The DfT is also consulting on plans to change the driver training and testing regime which I welcome - legislative change and updating the driver testing system will be important tools in our efforts to reduce accidents.

"Meanwhile, I would urge drivers to heed the warnings, not to be complacent, and to drive safely."

Scotland figures contained in this publication are based on a snapshot of data taken on April 25 this year.

20 June 2008


Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson this week congratulated Banff Academy on winning the Young Engineers Club of the Year at the Scottish Council for Development and Industry’s (SCDI) Celebration of Engineering Awards.

The Celebration of Engineering held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel and the Glasgow Science Centre saw a record entry of 60 Clubs from all over Scotland. Twenty-seven companies set technology challenges with numerous guests coming along to view the action. In all, over 600 schools pupils, teachers and companies took part, a record for the event.

Commenting on their award Mr Stevenson said:

“This is a fantastic achievement for Banff Academy and fully reflective of the hardwork and innovative spirit of the schools pupils and the coordinator David Pirie. Banff Academy has set a high standard over the last few years in fomenting a steady supply of creative and talented individuals and has become a model for what can be achieved when there is a strong network of support and encouragement from teaching staff.

“The skills that are developed in engineering clubs such as that at Banff Academy give a platform for hands on involvement in projects that can develop a number of technical and practical skills.

“The record number of participants in this year’s event shows that engineering and science subjects are exciting and enjoyable and a worthy subject to study in greater depth, be it in a vocational setting or in Further Education.

“We are always trying to harness the vast potential that Scotland has for innovation and the work of teachers such as David Pirie has to be lauded and indeed mimicked in other schools.

“There should also be a note of congratulations for SCDI and the partner organizations behind the event as it is awards like these that gives clubs such as the one at Banff Academy the opportunity to showcase their talent and be recognized for their achievements.”

17 June 2008


Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has called on the residents of Banff & Buchan to submit images, words and music, representing their experiences of the distinct landscape of Banff & Buchan to a new web-based resource.

Placebook Scotland is a web-based resource, developed by the Scottish Landscape Forum, which will draw upon people's experiences of Scotland expressed through the arts. The aim of Placebook Scotland is to capture the distinct nature of Scotland town by town area by area either in music, song, words or through photography.

PlaceBook Scotland aims to become an important record about how we see and perceive our places today. In the future you will be able to search the site to see what others have contributed about their place, and learn more about Scotland's diverse and distinct landscapes. There are plans to create an archive of these contributions and exhibit them throughout Scotland during the Homecoming Scotland 2009 celebrations.

Encouraging the essence of Banff & Buchan to be reflected Mr Stevenson said:

"This is an exciting project that brings the arts and landscape together. It will encourage all of us to think more about how important Scotland's diverse and distinctive landscapes are."

"I congratulate the Forum for initiating this idea which will help us celebrate, raise awareness of and promote understanding of the diversity of Scotland's landscapes, their condition and evolution."

”The project intends to generate interest in, and celebrate local people's sense of place through the arts and understanding of Scotland's distinct and diverse landscapes.

"The Scottish Landscape Forum wants to hear from the people of Scotland over the coming year on how they perceive Scotland, evoking the identity and essence of those places they have a strong relationship with.

“Banff & Buchan has its own unique characteristics and our own local landscape gives a significant contribution to Scottish identity and its rich natural and cultural heritage. I would therefore encourage as many people as possible to get involved and communicate the essence of Banff & Buchan using one of the many mediums from photography and video to prose, poetry, music and song.”


Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson today congratulated the Buchan Youth Forum on receiving £2,181.00 from the Scottish Government’s “CashBack for Communities” scheme and called on more local groups to apply for funds under the new project.

The ‘CashBack For Communities’ project, a ground-breaking initiative to use the proceeds of crime to make a positive difference to young people's lives is one that will see £3 million seized from criminals being used for a variety of community projects.

In the recent release of funds some £81,000 has been set aside to Aberdeenshire council to fund community youth projects. With only £28,620 so far awarded, there will now be a second round of applications to access the remaining £52,380.

The Buchan Youth Forum consists of a group of young people who help other groups in the Buchan area access funding and meet with local youths to see what they would like done within their community.

Commenting on the announcement Mr Stevenson said:

I am very pleased that Buchan Youth Group has been awarded this sum of money under “CashBack for Communities”. They are providing a terrific service and are fully deserving of this cash boost. With there still being a large pot of money left over I would also encourage more groups to make applications to obtain the remaining sums, the old adage “if you don’t ask you don't get” seems to ring true in this case.

“The CashBack for Communities is a fantastic scheme set up by this Government and sees, for the first time, criminal money being distributed back into the local community.

“The focus of the funding has been on those projects and organisations that offer potential solutions to the problem of anti-social behaviour within sections of your youth populations and to further support a whole range of community groups and youth projects.

“Under the arrangement all Youth organisations and projects within Aberdeenshire have been able to apply for a share of a pot of £81,000. However there still a large sum left over from the first round of applications I encourage those groups with a vested interest to apply.

“The CashBack for Communities scheme is one that intends to provide funding for projects which support young people involved, or at risk from violence, alcohol, drugs or antisocial behaviour. This means money is available for initiatives such as youth drop-in services and sporting and recreational activities such as climbing walls, skate parks, mountain bikes.

“There are a number of fantastic initiatives already working within the Banff and Buchan area. These projects which work in conjunction with community police officers, local authorities and volunteers do a terrific job in getting youths involved in activities which interest them and keep them out of trouble.
“The vast majority of young people don’t set out to get themselves in trouble; it is often the result of a lack of direction and a lack of leisure activities that they themselves want to get involved in.
“This is the reason the promotion of football, skate parks and other sporting activities have been such a success. By offering the young kids the facilities to enjoy themselves we help keep them from engaging in nuisance and anti-social behaviour.
“For all those wanting to access funding for prospective projects I recommend they get in contact with Youthlink Scotland who are accepting applications for funding as we speak. I must urge all those interested to start organising their application as there is a deadline of 29th August 2008.”

16 June 2008

Bus Action Plan: An Agenda for Change

Moving into the Future: An Action Plan for Buses - the Bus Action Plan - was published in December 2006 as part of the National Transport Strategy

It identified the key areas in which improvements would have to be made if the sought after advances in modal shift to bus were to be achieved.

Following a period of detailed analysis by key stakeholders of how the Bus Action Plan might best be implemented, a high level forum of senior decision-makers from local and central government, the bus industry and its regulatory agencies met in Edinburgh on 11 March 2008. The forum was chaired by Stewart Stevenson MSP, Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change.

The forum concluded that improved quality is key to persuading increasing numbers of drivers to leave their cars at home and travel by bus. So, too, is effective partnership in the planning and delivery of the required improvements. If the public and private sectors give even greater priority to buses and their passengers, and collaborate, there is a chance of taking the recent increases in passenger numbers to the next level.

At the forum, the Minister undertook to continue to work with the various stakeholders in advancing the agenda for change; to follow progress; and to issue bus policy guidance to stakeholders later in 2008.

The report of the high level forum may be found by clicking here.

The agenda, aims and background to the forum may be found by clicking here.

10 June 2008


Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has backed calls demanding the UK
Government ensure that the Post Office is awarded the contract for the successor to the Post Office Card Account, currently out to tender.

Fears have been expressed that if the Post Office does not get the contract there will be another round of substantial post office closures with rural communities once again facing the bulk of the threat.

With the National Federation of Sub Postmasters predicting that around 350 in Scotland alone could be a closed due to the failure to obtain the card account contract Mr Stevenson has been vocal in calling for the UK Government to take action.

Commenting on Mr Stevenson said:

"We need to take a long term approach to protecting our rural post offices which as we are all aware are under a rising threat of closure. By calling on the Westminster Government to award the Post Office this contract we are taking a preventative step to prevent the future risk of post office closures.

“The tender currently only specifies that the successful bidder must have a network of at least 10,000 outlets, but there is no requirement for there to be a significant number of rural outlets. Only the Post Office has enough outlets to be able to offer a service covering both urban and rural areas.

"The current Post Office Card Account is the only financial service available in many of our rural areas and is also vital income for many sub post offices. If the Post Office were to loose this contract it would be the death knell of many more sub post offices and we would face yet another round of savage cuts.

"The UK Government were directly responsible for the current mess by removing benefit and pension payments from the Post Office. The Card account was an attempt to arrest that decline and if it was now to go it would spell disaster.

“We have been campaigning hard against the current wave of postal closures and will continue to work at a number of levels to protect the future viability of our rural communities who rely on the services provided by Post Office.”

9 June 2008

Pedal Power Showcases Scotland As A Cycling Destination

Minister for Transport, Stewart Stevenson will join over 100 cyclists today (Monday 9 June) in a 200 mile mass bike ride which showcases a great way to enjoy a sustainable holiday and Scotland as a premium cycling destination.

The Clyde-Tae-Forth ride has been organised by the UK 's leading sustainable transport charity Sustrans.

Glasgow 's Lord Provost, Robert Winter, will wave-off the cyclists on their five day adventure from George Square . The riders will finish in Edinburgh on 13 June and will be met by a welcoming party at the Scottish Parliament.

The route will take in some of Scotland 's most stunning scenery with overnight stays in Aberfoyle, Killin, Dunkeld, Perth and Kinross, highlighting the benefits of cycle tourism to the local economies and community life.

The ride will also highlight two new cycling projects which have been developed as part of the Sustrans' Connect2 project to help make the local environment easier and more attractive to travel around on foot or by bike. These include:
  • 'Bridge to Nowhere', a half-finished walking and cycling bridge over the M8 motorway in Glasgow city centre, which will be completed with Connect2's help.
  • A new walking and cycling bridge over the River Tay connecting Perth and Scone .
John Lauder, Sustrans National Director for Scotland , is keen for people to see Scotland in a different light. He said:

"The Clyde-Tae-Forth ride is a fun way for people to explore the landscape, heritage and culture of this region of Scotland - with stunning views from the saddle guaranteed. It's going to be an exciting ride, especially with the added adventure of trailblazing a possible new route and visiting the Connect2 schemes to see the real difference better facilities for cyclists and walkers will make. And with lots of traffic-free sections and a gentler pace, this ride is great for families.

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson said:

"The Clyde-Tae-Forth route has some fantastic scenery and taking the journey by bicycle is a great way to enjoy it. Promoting active and sustainable transport is a key priority for the Scottish Government. Cycling is a great way for people to keep fit and do a bit for the environment."

Duncan McLaren?, Chief Executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:"The Clyde-Tae-Forth ride is a great way of showing that you don't need to fly thousands of miles to find a great holiday - they can actually be found right here in Scotland . Like the Slow Food movement, this is slow travel, and lets you really get to see the scenery and country without causing harm to the environment."

The 200 mile cycle takes in part of one of Scotland 's greatest assets, the canal network. Richard Millar from British Waterways Scotland said:

"We are delighted to welcome the cyclists from Sustrans Clyde-Tae-Forth ride at Bowling Harbour , which is part of the National Cycle Network. Sustrans has kindly worked in partnership with British Waterways Scotland to improve this area of the canal so it is a fitting place for the cyclists to take a well deserved rest today. We hope this initiative will encourage more people to get on their bikes and use the canal network in Scotland as a cycling route."

6 June 2008

Invites issued to build new rail line to Glasgow Airport

The Glasgow Airport Rail Link (GARL) took a major step forward today with the start of the procurement process to build the new line running from near Paisley St James station to Glasgow Airport.

Expressions of interest for the GARL Branch Line Phase One project are being sought from companies with expertise in major civil engineering projects involving road, rail and air transport. The contract – which is expected to be worth between £90m and £130m – will be awarded in Summer 2009 with work set for completion by Autumn 2011.

The Glasgow Airport Rail Link will upgrade 9km (5.4 miles) of existing track between Shields Junction and Paisley Gilmour Street station and lay around 2km (1.2 miles) of new track between Paisley St James station and Glasgow Airport.

Work on the line – which crosses St James playing fields – will involve building embankments, the construction of bridges across three minor roads, building a new 140m single-span bridge across the M8 and the construction of a new airport rail station. The majority of the rail line, including the new station, will be carried on a viaduct.

Glasgow Airport Rail Link is being delivered by Transport Scotland and Network Rail with additional financial support from BAA and the European Commission, through a Trans-European Networks Transport (TEN-T) grant.

Stewart Stevenson, Minister for Transport, welcomed the latest milestone in the flagship public transport project for the West of Scotland:

"This is another important step towards a fast, direct public transport link between Glasgow Airport and the centre of the city.

“The real progress being made on GARL clearly shows this Government’s commitment to investing in crucial transport projects to promote sustainable economic growth in the west of Scotland and beyond.

“Transport Scotland assumed the delivery powers for the project a few short weeks ago and I am pleased they are making such swift progress on what is the biggest single element of GARL. My officials are already aware of significant interest in the construction industry for what will be an impressive feat of civil engineering in its own right."

Ron McAulay, Network Rail Director, Scotland, said:

“Network Rail welcomes this investment in Scotland’s railways and we eagerly anticipate the huge benefits that this vital project will deliver. We look forward to working with Transport Scotland and the successful contractors on this important new addition to the railway network.”

A detailed survey of ground conditions along the line of the new spur is almost complete and work is continuing on the 11 temporary football pitches and changing facilities being provided at seven locations across Renfrewshire during construction of the new link. These will give local footballers alternative places to play when work starts on the planned viaduct across the St James Playing Fields in Paisley. All new football pitches are expected to be ready for use by October 2008.

In December 2007, Renfrewshire Council gave the green light for a new community sports pavilion to be built on the playing fields. The existing changing rooms will be knocked down and replaced as part of the project, with a new state-of-the-art pavilion for 40 teams, meaning all 20 pitches on the redeveloped site can be used.

In April, the Minister for Transport announced the project had reached an appropriate stage for Scottish Government agency Transport Scotland to assume the powers to deliver GARL from SPT.

For further information see

5 June 2008

£1.7million investment to improve rail car park facilities

Transport Scotland plans to invest around £1.7 million in railway car park expansions in the east to encourage more people to use the train. Projects are scheduled for Cupar, Musselburgh and Stonehaven stations later this year.

Through the Small Rail Improvements fund, Transport Scotland has already enabled First ScotRail to deliver car park expansions projects at five stations in the last 12 months. Perth, Glengarnock, Wemyss Bay, Dumfries and Prestonpans now have over 240 more spaces available for Park and Ride passengers. Together with this year’s expansions, this brings a total investment in car parks to £3 million.

Further funding has been provided to deliver more than 180 spaces at Musselburgh and Cupar in the coming months and First ScotRail is seeking planning persmission to expand Stonehaven car park by a further 30 extra later this year.

Stewart Stevenson, Transport Minister said:

“This Government continues to work with First ScotRail, Network Rail, Regional Transport Partnerships and Local Authorities to ensure all opportunities to expand parking capacity at stations are taken forward. We are delivering on a rolling programme of car park expansion which is one of the goals in Scotland’s Railways with a focus on schemes that meet passenger needs while maintaining value for money.

“The Small Rail Projects Fund enables us to deliver these expansions bringing real benefits to passengers in a number of ways. We believe these car park expansions will encourage people to make best use of park and ride facilities and make public transport a real alternative to the car”.

Peter Williams, Commercial Director at First ScotRail said:

“The provision of these additional spaces is in line with our ongoing drive to encourage more people to travel by rail. The enhancement complements our own comprehensive programme of investment and we will continue to work with industry partners to raise the overall level of service for our customers.”

3 June 2008


Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson today welcomed the introduction of pilot project to screen patients for MRSA before admission to hospital.

From this summer, all non-emergency admissions to NHS Grampian hospitals will be screened for MRSA as part of the pre-admission procedures.

If the pilot is successful screening will be rolled out across the NHS in Scotland from 2009-10.

Commenting on the pilot project Mr Stevenson said:

"MRSA and Healthcare Associated Infection (HAI) in general have become a real issue in the provision of effective health care in our hospitals in recent years. The Scottish Government is determined to do all we can to minimise the risk of contracting MRSA not only in the hospitals around Banff & Buchan but throughout the country.

"This programme will see a simple swab as part of the pre-admission process. This is all it takes to establish whether a patient has MRSA. Many people carry the bug on their skin or in their nose but it is only when it enters an open wound that it causes problems - that is why we are introducing screening for hospital patients.

“I feel this pilot project is one that has the potential to really cut down the incidence of HAI and I am pleased that the people of Banff & Buchan will be the first to benefit. In tandem with initiatives such as our national hand hygiene campaign and a new reporting system for C.diff, MRSA screening will help us meet our target to reduce Staph.aureus blood infections by 2010."


Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the announcement that the number of designated bathing waters in Scotland has risen by a third to a total of 80, its highest level ever. Of the 80 locations in Scotland 6 can be found around the delightful coast of Banff & Buchan.

The Government designated sites are ones created in areas where traditionally a large numbers of bathers congregate. By giving certain areas designated bathing status resources are properly channelled towards protecting waters where most people are likely to bathe, this in turn ensures that with summer fast approaching we can feel all feel more confident about dipping our toes in the water in the coming months ahead.

The areas from Banff & Buchan that are on the designated bathing list included: Cruden Bay, Fraserburgh (Philorth), Fraserburgh (Tiger Hill), Rosehearty, Peterehead lido and Inverboyndie.

Commenting on the announcement Mr Stevenson said:

“Having designated bathing status is a fantastic means of creating greater levels of public awareness about where the safest bathing spots are. With Banff and Buchan having 6 sites we compare more than favourably with other areas of Scotland.

“Having this recognised status for our bathing hot spots also allows these beaches the chance to win quality awards, including the Seaside Award which Cruden Bay and Inverboyndie currently hold.

“The Seaside Awards are given on the basis of good bathing standards, litter management, information provision and community involvement and is certainly not easily achieved.

“These awards are a major tribute to the efforts of local people who have shown remarkable community spirit in contributing to the upkeep of our beaches and indeed to all of those who use the beaches, for acting so responsibly and respectfully during their visits.

“These awards in themselves lead to greater levels of pride in our coastal areas and more opportunities for the local authorities and public at large to work together to improve the bathing standards all along the coast.

“I have been known to have a wee dip in our lovely coastal waters as a welcome relief from my ministerial duties and hopefully we will have a sun kissed summer so that this will be very much on my mind this year.”

Consultation underway on integrated ticketing strategy

Transport Scotland has unveiled plans to introduce cash-less integrated tickets which can be used on buses, trains and ferries throughout Scotland.

Smartcard technology is being developed which will allow users to access different travel services, ensuring Scotland has one of the most sophisticated travel systems in Europe in place well in advance of the Commonwealth Games coming here in 2014.

The Integrated Ticketing Strategy for Scotland is currently being considered by transport operators, local authorities, Regional Transport Partnerships and transport user groups. Consultation is due to be completed later this month.

Stewart Stevenson, Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change said:

“The eyes of the world will be on Scotland in 2014 and it is vital we have a sophisticated, effective ticketing system in place which provides genuine ease of access across our transport networks.

“We have therefore looked at existing smartcard-based ticketing systems used by other countries who have hosted events of the magnitude of the Commonwealth Games in order to develop something which is as good as anything seen anywhere in the world.

“Ensuring the millions of visitors coming to our country in 2014 experience a first class level of service is absolutely vital, but the effects of this policy will be felt well beyond the Commonwealth Games.

“This new ticketing system has the potential to change the way we all go about our daily business, making it easier to travel across different modes of transport through seamless integration between our trains, buses and ferries.

“Smartcard pilot schemes are already being developed in locations such as Orkney, Dundee and South Lanarkshire.

“Bus and ferry operators across Scotland are also being provided with smartcard-enabled ticketing equipment.

“We eagerly await the results of this consultation on the draft proposals and the feedback we receive will inform the new Strategy, which will provide the blueprint for how we implement a smartcard based integrated ticketing system across Scotland.”

Benefits of an integrated ticketing system are expected to include ease of use for users, revenue protection for operators, market growth, leading to better services and simplification for visitors.

Following the consultation exercise, the Strategy is set to be formally launched later this year.

The consultation document is Integrated Ticketing: A Strategy for Scotland.

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